Symposium 2012: Should students who finish high school early qualify for free college education?

RMC3: I certainly think there should be an incentive for kids who finish high school early. Obviously, if they finish early, they’ve got better than average grades, but what is the incentive for them? I think they should probably be put at the head of the line for scholarships and grants. Forget about awarding scholarships and grants on needs-based considerations. Scholarships and grants should be awarded based on aptitude, ability, and academic performance. 

And there should be higher priority for those who graduate high school early and who are willing to go into fields such as engineering where we have a low turnout rate amongst U.S. students. We need more engineers and well trained and educated teachers and doctors and scientists. We don’t need more football or baseball players, for example.

I certainly don’t favor any additional or special funding from the taxpayers for rewarding kids for graduating high school early. There’s a limited amount of scholarships and grants right now. If you’re sixteen and you’ve graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA, the colleges and universities should be lined up with offers for you. You should be able to pick wherever it is you want to go and they have a very attractive offer for you. If the school offers you a scholarship for a free ride, great for you; that’s the school’s money that they’re spending from privately funded foundations. But I certainly don’t think anyone should get a free ride on the back of the taxpayers…unless you’ve served our country in uniform.
Cartwright: I don’t favor giving anyone a free ride using taxpayer money. Every kid in America has the opportunity for a free education up to the twelfth grade—funded by the taxpayers. Beyond that, it’s up to the individual. Higher education is a privilege not a right. You’ve got to be willing to work for it and pay for it to some extent.

We need to educate them at an early age that working hard and applying oneself has a lot of benefits in the long-term such as a higher standard of living, monetary benefits, and so on. If you’re lazy and shiftless, it’s a much less rewarding life and existence. We need to teach kids early about personal responsibility and providing for oneself and one’s family as opposed to relying on handouts. Society today, particularly, young people are always looking for short cuts. We need to instill in kids that there are no short cuts in life.

I do agree there should be some incentive for kids to work hard and do well in school. And that incentive needs to come in the form of priority placement for scholarships at colleges and universities. If you graduate early, you can pick where you want to go and they’ll be glad to have you. There are plenty of private scholarship opportunities that can be redirected to kids who perform well academically in high school and graduate early.

Michigan: Students who finish high school early are to be commended and praised for their hard work and dedication to study. These students in most cases are going to get scholarships, grants, lottery money and other forms of financial help. Many of these students can have all tuition paid if they maintain a certain GPA.
Sydney: It’s all well and good to suggest that early high school finishers should receive free college education but who is going to put their hand up to pay for it. The government is already cutting its funding to colleges meaning that the colleges themselves need more fees. They can’t afford to give more students a free education. Perhaps, as is already the case in some towns, business owners and other benefactors could put money towards fees of these early finishers to encourage these young adults to stay in the local area and contribute by living there once they have finished their degrees. However, you can’t force people to live in the same place all their lives. It seems that a more commonsense approach to education would be to allow students who do the extra work to earn college credits or learn some trade skills while they are still in school. These qualifications would mean that they would finish their degrees or complete apprenticeships earlier. This is something that is already being done in some areas but could be beneficial if it was rolled out nationally.

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